They had returned from captivity zealous to rebuilt the Temple.
But, when opposition arose, the work was stalled (cf. Ezra 4).
The Temple in lain in ruins for 15 years!
They had gotten used to, comfortable with, worshipping God in the ruins of a once great Temple.
They turned their attention to their own agendas, their own private affairs (Hag. 1:3).
When they were called to get back to their work for the Lord, they were full of feeble excuses:
It's not the right time (Hab. 1:2).
We don't have the money.
We don't have the material.
We don't have qualified workers.
How many excuses can you think of for not doing God's work?
Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
We live in a "blame everybody else" culture!
It's never my own fault.
It's my culture, my circumstances, my family, my lack of opportunity, etc., etc., etc.
God doesn't except excuses!
He requires obedience without reservation.
God told them to build the Temple!
They attempted to nullify what God said with their own plans.
We must take great care that we don't exclude what the Lord says from our thinking.
When God said, by Elisha, how Naaman's leprosy could be cleansed (2 Kings 5:9-10).
But Naaman "said to myself" excluded God's plan from his thinking (2 Kings 5:11).
He had to be persuaded to just do what God, by the prophet, told him to do and it was only then that he was cleansed (2 Kings 5:14).
How often do men "say to themselves" how they think things should be...
When it comes to the organization of the church.
When it comes to the worship of the church.
When it comes to the terms of salvation.
Only to exclude what "thus speaks the Lord"!
How He wants His church organized.
How He wants to be worshipped.
How people must be saved.
We need to stay away from what "This people says..." and just do what "thus speaks the Lord"!